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Before you reach in that bucket and grab a week-old shard of melted plastic to gnaw on for a little iPad case-makin’ inspiration, look at what the necessity for flatness and reduced material usage has resulted in.

Like many of you, Jeff Bare, of jbare designs, knew he would be getting an iPad the first day Mr. Jobs revealed it’s glistening screen in his sweaty palms. It’s like Steve was looking right into Jeff’s eyes saying, “My product sucks… unless you make a rockin’ wrap to keep it from scratchin'”… and that’s exactly what Jeff did. Here’s the story.

Jeff, what the heck is this and what inspired the design?
I guess I’m leaning towards calling it a wrap, since it’s not really a case.

When Apple first showed-off the iPad I thought about the back not being flat and the inevitable wobble when it’s placed on a flat surface. I also saw some comments on the aluminum enclosure being scratched easily. So, I thought about doing a case for it. The first iteration I came up with was the most basic and cheap design (in terms of 3D printing). I wanted to test wall thicknesses, overall fit, and function. These are images of the first iteration.

Since then I’ve tweaked the fit to make it a bit more snug, and added some nubs to the back to improve the stability.

Having the 3d iPad model from Mike Puckett was key. I had already made one based on the overall dims from Apple and pics, but Mike had the iPad in his hands and therefore was much more spot on. So I modeled this thing based solely on Mike’s model. I ordered the 3D print from Shapeways the same time I ordered my iPad and they arrived within 3 days of each other.

I have lots of ideas and sketches for more functionality, but the great thing with 3D printing is the ease of iteration. I can transition them in and test them down the road when I have time. So things like kickstands, car mounts, holes in the corners to accept magnets to throw this thing on the fridge… they are all possibilities.

The other strength of 3D printing is that Shapeways loves to push is the ease of customization. So their ‘Draw-it’ competition pushes the designers to make a simple template anyone can sketch their design on that can then be turned into 3D. The wrap I came up with seemed like a good use for this, so I took my already tested design, changed the back to allow for more sketching space and came up with the ‘Canvas Wrap’. Hopefully it allows people to come up with some creative designs for the back. Here are some images:

Wan to try it yourself? Download the Canvas Wrap template (pdf) and print at Shapeways.

You could fit the number of cases available for the iPad on a very large man’s back. This experiment by Jeff, however, is a unique look at using a different manufacturing technique to create a functional product and reduce the cost for making it. It won’t protect your precious pad like some others would, but you gotta admit the minimal style is striking. Way to go Jeff. Now time to make a wrap for the wrap, that you can wrap around your chest.

You’ll be able to see Jeff’s renderings a week from now on May 24th, when the winner of the iPad Rendering Challenge is revealed! Follow Jeff on Twitter!

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.